Bulls use break to build winning streak

During spring break, South Florida’s softball team took a break of its own. After starting the season 7-18-1, USF took a break from losing and went on a seven-game winning streak, improving its record to 16-20-1.

“It feels great to get some W’s under your belt,” Bulls head coach Ken Eriksen said. “It takes the edge off, and it shows that hard work pays off.”

The Bulls have been victorious by using the same formula they have played by all season: getting the first and second batters on base, and using three through six to drive them home.

“We’re catching some breaks and swinging the bat a little more aggressively,” Eriksen said. “Other than that we are doing the same stuff. It’s just paying off now.”

USF started by winning its final game of the Speedline Invitational against Northern Illinois in Plant City and continued winning throughout the week. Tuesday the Bulls swept a doubleheader against Temple, including a 10-6 comeback win after being down 6-1 in the fourth inning of the first game. Katie Dugger (1-5) won the first game of her career, pitching a complete game with five strikeouts. In the second game Gail Callinan picked up her first win of the season (1-1) with a 2-1 victory.

Wednesday USF routed Manhattan, defeating the Jaspers 9-0 in five innings and 4-0 in the second game of the doubleheader.The Bulls rounded out the week with their third doubleheader sweep in as many chances when they defeated Quinnipiac 9-1 in six innings and 8-0 in five innings.

With the Bulls’ break going well, it got even better Saturday when they swept yet another doubleheader, this time getting two Conference USA victories by defeating Charlotte and improving their conference record to 3-2. The Bulls also got Georgantas back after she served an 11-game suspension for violating academic policy.

In the first victory against the 49ers, Eriksen earned his 250th win as head coach of the Bulls. Eriksen has led the Bulls for six seasons and found out about the milestone when the team surprised him with a cake later that evening.

“It’s great because my coaches have all been with me,” Eriksen said. “It’s a nice accolade for our coaching staff. They have done a great job.”

Win No. 250 was a long one for the Bulls, going ten innings. USF scored four runs in the first two innings, taking a 4-1 lead before Charlotte scored four runs in the fourth to take a 5-4 lead. In the final inning of regular play, Renee Oursler hit a three-run home run, but the Bulls then allowed the 49ers to send the game into extra innings with a two-run bottom of the seventh. After two scoreless innings Lewellen hit a double to center field with two outs, driving in Riker and Roberts for the victory. USF scored two runs for the victory.

Dugger allowed only one hit in the game, pitching 3 1/3 innings and striking out two.

The Bulls will try to continue their winning streak when they host No. 13 Iowa Wednesday.

  • Bryan Fazio covers softball and can be reached at oraclebryan@yahoo.com